FG tackles RoW challenges, to lay 18,000km fibre optic cable across regions

Olusola Teniola, president of ATCON


The Federal Government is currently working on resolving the perennial Right of Way (RoW) challenges that has hindered improved connectivity in Nigeria and stalled drive for ubiquitous broadband revolution in the country.

Besides, there are also indications that the Federal Government planned laying 18, 000 kilometer fibre optic cables to further help the country in meeting and surpassing the 30 per cent broadband penetration target set for 2018.

The Guardian learnt that this new drive is being championed by the Presidency and that four operators have been selected to lay the fibre cable. They include MainOne; IHS Nigeria Limited; Broadbased Limited and Phase3 Communications.

This development came to the fore when the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) led by its President, Olusola Teniola, paid a working visit to the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umaru Danbatta, in Abuja.

Danbatta, while receiving ATCON members, informed that a solution to the perennial challenges of RoW would soon emerged, as the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, had met with the Nigeria Governors Forum and used the opportunity to make a presentation on RoW, “and the Governors appeared to buy the initiative, and that of laying fibre, which would cover up to 18,000 km in Nigeria. This initiative would be solely driven by the Vice President and with it, solutions shall be proffered to the challenges caused by RoW and the 30 per cent broadband penetration target set would be met and surpassed.”

Danbatta, who spoke on some benefits that come with high broadband penetration and emphasised the need for quality critical infrastructure, said broadband will drive education sector, health sector, financial sector, transportation sector and agriculture sector.

The NCC EVC said a concerted effort must be directed towards penetrating broadband in the country. According to him, if critical infrastructures are allowed to be situated in all Nigerian states it would create a win –win situation for both states government and operators. Danbatta said digital transformation would change the country socially, economically and would further lead to youth empowerment, fostering e-learning, and opening the society more.

Danbatta, who used the occasion to task Teniola on his re-election as President of ATCON, revealed that the industry’s interconnectivity debts stands at N165 billion as at today, “and the commission is concerned with how to resolve the issue. A meeting was recently held to proffer some long lasting solutions to the issue of interconnectivity debts.”He said a pragmatic plan needed to be put in place to mitigate incidence of interconnectivity debts in the industry as it is causing a lot of unnecessary distractions for the commission and that NCC would appreciate an approach from ATCON to address the issue before it grows beyond what it is.

Danbatta commended ATCON for its advocacy in respect of Cybercrime levy of 0.005 and said the sector has contributed N1.43 trillion to the country’s GDP and that there is need to talk more about the performance of our industry. He said the contribution of N1.43 trillion was achieved because of the progressive regulatory put in place by the commission, which has also attracted further investment into the sector.

Danbatta said ATCON‘s proposal on Broadband and Technology Investment Forum is apt and it aligns with the initiative being pursued by the presidency. He said the presidency initiative was put in place to accelerate investment in the industry and that ATCON would be carried along to realize the goals and objectives of the presidency initiative.

“It has been found out that broadband is non-existence in many states in Nigeria because of commercial reasons. The initiative being pursued by the presidency would ensure that some form of telecommunications services would be provided for the rural dwellers as well as ensure critical mass of ICT adoption among the underserved and unserved,” he stated.

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